Friday, June 10, 2016

One sided stiffness in the driving horse

Horses seem to be stiff on one side or the other. Sometimes when we get one side soft and flexible, they then struggle on the other side. It is very important to remember to do all initial training at a walk and not to try it trotting until the horse is soft at the walk. I like to walk them collected and  up in the bridle, yet flexing from left to right and do this again and again without the nose popping back out. There are other ways to get them soft. If I am really struggling, I will round pen with them tied back to one side only to help get them accepting my "ask" in the cart. Treasure was soooo stiff to the right that we thought at one time that there was something physically wrong, but she is improving with leaps and bounds.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beamer's performance "story"

This boy came into my life "broke to cart," but Nancy Rivenburg cautioned me against trying to show him due to his temperament and due to his roaring. In late 2011, Lisa, my oldest, started driving him at home and we found that he only roared when he got worked up and nervous. He started relaxing more and more so we tried to show him at the 2012 Touch of Class. We found that we could not get him to even trot in the show arena. Scratching him from all of his classes, we stalled him that entire show. He hopped and skipped nervously around the arena. We were so disappointed because Sheryl Peterson (who I knew loved this horse) was there and I wanted her to see him drive. Instead, he sat in his stall. That year, I showed Design and Lisa so badly wanted to show the two paternal brothers could not happen.

I started driving him in 2013. He very slowly gained confidence, but when he got nervous or excited, the roaring would start up again. Long trailer rides seemed to cause problems, for he did fairly well in our "home arena" at Touch of Class. But, he bombed badly at Nationals. I left every class frustrated almost to tears. Here was a horse that I had spent oodles of time with at home, and had high hopes for and his nerves interfered so much that I actually had someone walk up to me after a class and tell me that I should have been asked to leave. LOL! We were not out of control, but we did  have  terrible drives! There were many very kind people too who told me of similar experiences and Sheryl told me at that show the memory of them trying to drive Beamer at shows back when he was young and not being able to get him to perform. It was comforting to know that his professional trainer back then had had the same issues. But, we kept on driving. In that 2013 Nationals arena, I was humbled. I will never criticize someone else's horse and assume that what I see in the show arena matches the horse's performance at home. Beamer hollowed out in the show arena, his butt went up and his neck no longer rounded from the withers. He short stepped and didn't even look like the same horse as he did when at home. He angrily threw his head and fought the bit. My connection with him was all gone. Nancy Rivenburgh had flown in and was getting to see 'her boy' for the first time in years, and he was all wrong. I was so disappointed. But, I learned that horse shows are not about how well we perform, and that relationships matter so much more! It taught me to respect others who are upbeat, encourage others and positive when their horse is not working for them. Below is a comparison of how he looked in 2013 and how he looked in 2015.

We did not show much in 2014, but Beamer was driven just as often here at home. I did take him to Touch of Class where he won Stallion Country Pleasure. One sweet judge really encouraged us. And, I kept on driving him.
I have tried a few things to help him. I think the biggest help has been time in the cart. I drive him everywhere and I often take him on trail alone to test him. I drive him in fun shows, I surf behind him in our irrigation water. I do give him a combination of flax seeds, Vitamin C and Fast Track for the antioxidants. He roars much less now, but still will start if he feels lots of pressure from me. Sensitive boy!!  I basically had to restart his training for we emphasize bending and shoulder work and do not use many mechanical methods in our training techniques. This helps for when he gets worked up, I can start asking him to do things and get his mind focused back on me and not on the situation. When I talk about how we train, I am not criticizing those who choose another method: I see some really nice collected horses driving that have been trained completely differently.

2015 came along and Beamer is doing better in the show ring (he was able to win Reserve National Champion Country Pleasure Driving Stallions). Placing that well was even more rewarding due to his progress!! Beamer still does not drive like he does at home, but even at home, he can be upset by other stallions or by mares in heat. The challenge is on!! I will keep on driving him. I have learned that I can train at home and prepare, but my outcome in the arena is in the Lord's hands. There are way too many variables for me to control. And, if you are struggling with a horse, I encourage you to not give up.

Many horses have a long story that come with them. I see so much good improvement in horses from year to year. It is fun to see the progression that others make and it is a blast to watch my own horses change with time.

Spook testing Pixie

This video shows some testing Jessie was doing of a mare who has a very special job. She needs to go home and give rides to children. We want to be sure that she is as safe as we can get her to be in the time that we have with her. So, Jessie drives her out in our neighborhood just about daily. Her owner visited us last week to see how she was doing. Jess followed her around in the arena making various noises to try and spook her.

After working in the arena, Jess hopped in the cart and around the neighborhood they went to see if spooking would be a problem. All went perfectly. This mare just started driving 2 weeks ago.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ruger at 2015 Nationals!!!

2015 Nationals has come and gone. We had a blast, spent time with old friends and new friends. Our horses won 2 Reserve National Champions (Rivenburghs Lets Roll SE and I AM Rhythms Cameo), 5 top fives and 5 top tens. The classes were HUGE, and our horses drove well. We were super pleased. This was the first year that we drove our own home bred babies in classes. Ruger (I AM a Secret Weapon LR) and Thunder (I AM The Last Roll of Thunder) were our 3 year olds and they handled everything very well. Both of these boys were for sale,  and we had prayed asking God's hand over them. Thunder sold into a wonderful home, and the Lord must intend for us to keep on driving Ruger, for he came home with us. I put together a montage of his various classes into a video. He stayed soft on the bit, willing, rounded and collected and amazingly consistent......I was thrilled with him. He is amazing for a horse that just turned 3 in June of 2015. We will continue to train and drive him until he is sold. Here is the video of him.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tips...tail socks and cart lights!

We had a visit from one of our favorite ladies this morning and she asked me to show her how to tail a sock. So, here it is for anyone else who is interested.

It is hot here in Phoenix, so we do a lot of driving at night. When we are in the arena, lighting up our carts is no big deal....but when we are out and about the neighborhood, being seen is essential. Here are some cheap nifty little lights.

Love my "nightlights!" Easy, cheap, no hubby required, and no damage to the cart!
Posted by Beth Dales on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friday, September 4, 2015

You are a it or not!

"But, I don't want to train, I just want to have fun!" That was the moan I would hear out of one of my daughters when they were little and we all were riding big horses. Yes, there is time for relaxing, and we go on many a trail ride....but my response was, "Every time you interact with a horse, you are training!" Parents, this is true with your children too. Every moment you are around them, and even when you are not around them, you are teaching them about life and relationships. Our children learn from what we do, rather than from what we say. More is caught, than taught!!!  So, in essence, every one who drives a mini is a trainer, either for good or for bad.  You are giving your horse a message every time you drive.

That being said, I don't want to set myself up as an expert, or as an authority in any way. I am just a verbal lady, excited about horses, fairly transparent and handy with a camera. There are many out there much wiser than I am. Wish they had the time to be busy with a camera :)   We are all in this together. I love when Angela or Kim or Jaci or Julianna or Tim or.....fill in the blank, asks me why did I just do that? Or, would it be better to do it this way or that?? We are all in this together; striving to get the best from our horses. I welcome ideas....

I also know that when I started driving minis, it puzzled me. With big horses, there was help everywhere. I live in a horsey area and a man who trains with Al Dunning and Brad Barkenmeyer is down the way. He always could redirect me. There were World Champions in many homes that were enthusiastic and shared with me. There are many videos. But, I struggled to find accessible help with collection in the cart. How to get that mini body moving correctly without my legs and weight???? That was my question. I rode a lot of Western Pleasure horses too. You touch the rein, they drop the head and get off your hands completely. Minis, on the other hand, are driven with contact. When was it hard? How did you drive on the bit, but still have your mini light? These questions stayed on my mind as we worked with horse after horse. I'd see fancy movers at shows who look scared and hyped up on sugar to move the way they did. Then, I'd see some who were trained to move, and yet were calm. I had so many questions. I have been thankful for those experienced drivers who would talk to me. On a whole, there are many nice people in this miniature horse world.

I can't wait for Nationals. Not because I want to show my own horses, but because I learn. I love watching the talent in the warm up arena. I have heard many complaints about trainers. and some are justified in my mind, but there are some real experts out there too. Some of the trainers amaze me in what they accomplish with the number of horses they work, the varying temperaments involved with each horse and how well they do.

Even though we take horses in and train for others. I still call myself an ammy. With how old I am, I will always be an ammy. But, I love learning. It was Muffy Seaton's video on "Bending the Driving Horse" that first got me thinking. I watch videos like I cook. Glean quickly over the recipe, close the book up and start playing. But, Muffy's ideas of bending began making sense.

I admire the "real trainers" for they also have to have people skills. Much of their skill is also in handling the multitudes of personalities that come with miniature horses, and to do it kindly!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

VIDEO....Balancing the Driving Miniature horse

Before you begin to ask of your horse what I am asking of Beamer, you need to do lots of preliminary work. First ask for just soft lateral bending. Once my mini understands that , I ask for lateral bending that involves breaking the poll and moving the shoulder. Finally I ask for lift. But, this exercise is not one that I begin with! I can only ask this of a horse that is soft on the bit and understands lateral movement.

Remember that collection starts from the hind end. Thus, you will hear me clucking while I play with positioning his head. This is to keep him driving from the hind and to keep impulsion happening. Beamer is so much "go" that a cluck is all that is needed. If you have a horse that is dead to the are going to have to get them moving when you ask for impulsion. That can be accomplished in the round pen most easily.